Kirpal Singh's wisdom is free to anyone online. He talks about the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and how it “lays great stress on yogic breathing for ‘all life exists only from breath to breath,’ and it said that ‘he who breathes half, only lives half.’ We must therefore develop air-hunger. ‘For vital airs,’ says Hippocrates, ‘is the real pabulum vitae.’ ” “Deep breathing is a great, positive aid to self-culture and helps in retaining health, youth and longevity. The habit of conscious deep breathing gives a good exercise to the respiratory organs and ensures a free circulation of blood. Respiration consists of alternate expansion and contraction as the air is drawn in or expelled out from the lungs, and these are termed inhalation (inspiration) and exhalation (expiration) respectively. Each of these is followed by a suspensory pause within and without.” There are countless pranayama exercises in Yoga, and it is good to practice all of them from time to time. There are several pranayama sequences on this site. It is my belief that one should study these with a teacher, because doing them incorrectly might not get the results one wished for. However, this segment provides the ancient and traditional Buddhist Breath Meditation the way I learned it. What seems like a simple thing to do, breathe consciously, turns out to be one of the most difficult acts to maintain over time with awareness! It is not a simple task to merely be conscious of your breath without trying to control it in some way. This is not about The Complete Yoga Breath. This not pranayama. This is about how to simply make breath an object of awareness, without changing it. There is no need to change your breath. Leave it as it is—natural. Just this can be difficult. Here are some tips to make it easier:
MEDITATION ASSOCIATED WITH
November 11, 2005—An imaging study led by Massachusetts General Hospital researchers showed that particular areas of the cerebral cortex, the outer layer of the brain, were thicker in participants who were experienced practitioners of a type of meditation commonly practiced in the U.S. and other Western countries. The article appears in the Nov. 15 issue of NeuroReport, and the research also is being presented Nov. 14 at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington, DC.
“Our results suggest that meditation can produce experience-based structural alterations in the brain. We also found evidence that meditation may slow down the aging-related atrophy of certain areas of the brain,” says Sara Lazar, PhD, of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program, the study's lead author.
Using standard MRI to produce detailed images of the structure of participants' brains, the researchers found that regions involved in the mental activities that characterize Insight meditation were thicker in the meditators than in the controls, the first evidence that alterations in brain structure may be associated with meditation. They also found that, in an area associated with the integration of emotional and cognitive processes, differences in cortical thickness were more pronounced in older participants, suggesting that meditation could reduce the thinning of the cortex that typically occurs with aging.
“The area where we see these differences is involved in both the modulation of functions like heart rate and breathing and also the integration of emotion with thought and reward-based decision making—a central switchboard of the brain,” says Lazar, an instructor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School.
It's interesting enough to read the entire article and perhaps find more links like this to tell others when they pooh-pooh your attempts to meditate.
- When you inhale, breathe consciously. Let your consciousness move with the incoming breath. And when the breath goes out, let your consciousness move out with it. Move with the breath. Let your attention be with the breath. Flow with it. Do not forget a single breath.
- Try do this as long as you can. It will take a while before you succeed for more than probably 5 minutes. That's fine. Take your time. I repeat these words so often on this site: there is no need to rush. Build up the minutes day by day. One hour seems like such a small fragment of time, but it is not. To be completely conscious of your breath means that you are not attached to any thoughts that distract your attention.
- Buddha never said, “stop thinking.” Instead, he said “breathe consciously.” You cannot both think and breathe consciously. When a thought comes into your mind, your attention is withdrawn from the breathing. A single thought and you have become unconscious of the breathing process.
- Remember the incoming and the outgoing breath. Move with it. The more you try to do this, the more conscious you will become.
- Every moment that the breath goes in, you will get closer to your center—which is the navel and solar plexus.
- Start when the breath is just entering your nose. Begin to be aware of it. If you can go to the very center, for a brief moment, breath stops and there is a gap. The breath comes in—the breath goes out. Between the two there is a subtle gap. That gap is your center. Only after practicing breath awareness for a long time, when you are aware of the breath, will you become aware of the gap. Breath is neither coming in nor going out.
- When you exhale, remain conscious of the breath. Also become aware of the gaps. There is one gap before you inhale, and one gap after you exhale. The second gap is more difficult to be aware of consistently.
- Between the incoming breath and the outgoing breath is your center. There is another center, the cosmic center. In the gap between the exhalation and when it is coming in is the cosmic center. These two centers are not two different things. First you will become aware of your inner center and then you will become aware of the outer center. I know, this sounds like a bunch of hocus-pocus, but after you experience this you will understand why it is hard to describe in words!
- Ultimately, you will come to know that both of these centers are one. Then out and in will lose their meaning. Source: I found this in the early 1970s and have no idea where it came from. If someone recognizes this as something he or she has copyrighted, please let me know. However, it strikes me that anyone who knows this, would also want the world to know it!